Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

February 2007

GeneralSunday, February 18th, 2007, (12:01 am)

Chinese new year begins today (Sunday), and this year in the year of the pig which is great because I love bacon. Two thousand and pig here we come!

Even though this will be a pig of a year for Chinese people everywhere it wouldn’t actually be correct to call this year “two thousand and pig” though. In actual fact it’s now the year 4705 according to the Chinese lunar calendar which rings in a new year on a date which corresponds with the second New Moon after the winter equinox.

Each year on a chinese calendar is represented by one of 12 animals (or mythical animals in the case of the dragon). Of course in western culture it’s unlikely we would have devoted an entire year to a pig, or for that matter some of the other Chinese year animals such as the rat, rabbit, dog, snake, sheep, or cock. Indeed, I shudder to think how we might celebrate a ‘year of the cock’ here in the west. Our choice of iconic animals might have included lions, bears, and other such powerful symbols of the animal kingdom.

So with a second chance at making a fresh start this new year, the obvious question is what are your resolutions going to be?

GeneralWednesday, February 14th, 2007, (11:30 am)

St. Valentines day is a modern miracle of marketing. A ‘Hallmark holiday’ that conveniently traps all couples into making some kind of gesture of ‘love’ to one another, no matter how contrived on meretricious that gesture might be. It’s a celebrated exploitation of unashamed commercialism that seeks to profit from what is essentially a romantic requirement. As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of St. Valentines day.

My problem with this particular ‘Hallmark holiday‘ is that the giving of whatever gift you choose to give your partner is largely expected and is therefore somewhat devalued. The sentiments behind giving a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, and a card with a loving message would feel more genuine on almost any other day of the year in my opinion. Saying “I love you” on St. Valentines is all to often as heartfelt as saying the Lords prayer when you have absolutely no interest in talking to God.

But while the message of love in a valentines day gesture is reduced, the negative connotations to any inaction is greatly increased. It must surely be impossible to forget that February 14th is St Valentines day, so if you don’t get your partner a card then this isn’t an oversight rather than a choice, and one that will have a far greater impact than the box of chocolates or the flowers ever could.

Of course, there will be some who will dismiss my negative opinions of St Valentines day as ‘sour grapes’ or ‘mean spirited.’ But as far as I see it, there are 364 better opportunities in a year to tell the person you love that you love them. If that love is genuine then why not take back February 14th from Hallmark and instead use this day to celebrate the fact that you don’t need a card company to tell you when you should to say “I love you.”

MusicTuesday, February 13th, 2007, (2:27 pm)

It’s official: The Police are to reform and go on tour this year. The musical trio from ‘old blighty’ are going to take one last stab at being rockers on the road in what promises to be a lucrative sell out tour.

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s it is perhaps not unfair to say that The Police were the ‘biggest band in the world’ banging out classics like Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing, Message In A Bottle, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, and of course Every Breath You Take.

Sting, 55, Andy Summers, 64, and Stuart Copeland, 54, announced their tour shortly after playing their classic song Roxanne the recent Grammy Awards ceremony. They plan to play North America, Mexico, South America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

I’m definitely going to try and get hold of tickets for when they play the UK. As a kid I was a big fan of the band with posters of the sunglasses wearing funk rockers adorning my bedroom walls. I had all their albums on cassette which I used to play constantly on my brick sized Sony walkman. Every Breath You take remains one of my all time favorite songs.

Indeed as I sit here writing this I have their Greatest Hits playing on iTunes and even now after all these years I can still sing along nearly word for word to the songs.

The Police were eventually knocked off their perch at the top of the music world by a group of four young upstarts from Ireland by the curious name of ‘U2’.

The 14 date North American tour starts off in Vancouver, Canada, on May 28th. The band plans to donate a portion of the revenue from the tour to WaterAid, a charity that works in 17 countries providing water, sanitation and hygiene education to some of the world’s poorest people. Tickets for the 14 dates across North America go on sale this weekend and are priced between 50 to 225 dollars.

[Video] Every Breath You Take
[Video] Message In A Bottle
[Video] Don’t Stand So Close To Me
[Video] Roxanne
[Video] So lonely
[Video] De do do do, De da da da
The Police to reform and tour

Found on the webMonday, February 12th, 2007, (5:26 pm)

Back in the offices of God Inc., where all the printers would seem to be named after porn stars! Love it!

This one isn’t as funny as the others, but the line “I handle ‘sort-of-Christians’, you know the ones who only go to church for weddings, never actually read the Bible, vote for the democrats.” made me laugh.

I wonder what job Anna Nicole Smith would be given? I’m hoping she would be the spin class instructor. I don’t do spin classes but with the right amount of wobble I could have a change of heart.

God Inc. Episode 3
God Inc. Episode 2
God Inc. Episode 1

GeneralFriday, February 9th, 2007, (11:54 pm)

The patron saint of every trailer park in America, Anna Nicole Smith, is dead! She was 39. The details surrounding her unexpected death in a South Florida hotel may yet turn into another scandalous chapter in her eventful and somewhat tragic life.

Born in a small Texas town as Vickie Lynn Hogan in 1967, she was abandoned by her father and shuffled between her mother and her aunt. She got married at 17, and became a mother at the same time. It was an inauspicious start to life by any standards.

But as luck would have it, good fortune seemed to smile upon Smith in the early 90’s. Despite her torrid beginnings she was able to ascended to the dizzying height (or pitiful low depending on your moral outlook) of a Playboy magazine cover girl on no less than four occasions. Photographed in a classic pinup style that harked back to the era of Marilyn Monroe, Bridgette Bardot, and Anita Ekberg, Smith became the magazines ‘Playmate of the year’ in 1993.

A year later, she married a man 63 years older than her. He was J. Howard Marshall, an 89 year old billionaire oil tycoon in ill health. Smith insisted the marriage was about true love and that there was simply no question of money being a motive. 14 months later Marshall died (presumably with a smile on his face) leaving Anna Nicole with a huge share in his fortune.

She became one of America’s most notorious ‘blonde bombs’ and seemed unable to shake off the reputation of being a dim “white trash” gold-digger. Indeed she sued New York magazine for five million dollars plus punitive damages after they used a picture of her eating a bag of chips in an article entitled “White trash nation.” However, that legal altercatation was nothing against the intense battle she had with her former stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over the her dead husbands finacial legacy.

Smith lost that battle in 2001 and declared herself bankrupt shortly thereafter. But the drama didn’t end there. After much legal wrangling the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a previous courts decision and allowed her to once more pursue a fortune after alleged misconduct in the trial with her stepson. A month later he died at age 67.

In that time it’s fair to say that Smith became a lardy loud mouth drunk with a talent for making people feel embarrassed for her as she staggered around like a fat blonde bum in a sassy dress that was made for someone much thinner. Her value as a celebrity crashed, and burned horribly.

But as often happens in the fickle heartless world of showbiz, Smith returned to the limelight once more after losing the weight that had helped drag her down. She started a lingerie line and promoted various other products. But despite getting back into shape she remained a somewhat tragicly controversial figure often attracting scorn and ridicule.

After announcing last year that she was pregnant both her attorney and her ex-boyfriend claimed the child was theirs. Three days after the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn, Smith’s 20 year old son, Daniel, collapsed and died while visiting his newborn sister in hospital. An autopsy revealed that he had a cocktail of drugs in his system, evidence perhaps of a troubled life which sadly seems unsurprising.

Though it’s unlikely that Smith’s story will capture the imagination as much as that of the iconic figure of Marilyn Monroe, whom she idolised, it’s hard not to draw comparrisons between them.

Anna Nicole Smith’s death brings to an end what I suspect was not the happiest of lives. But I somehow, even though she’s gone now, I feel that there’s probably still a little drama left in her story yet.

[Video] Anne Nicole Smith drunk as a bum in a dress
[Video] Anna-Nicole announces she is pregnant
[Video] A sort of tribute
[Video] Just about the strangest video I’ve ver seen!
[Video] Scratch that – This is the strangest video I’ve ever seen!
[Video] Anna Nicole Smiths cringingly hideous TrimSpa TV commercial
Wikipedia : Anna Nicole Smith
What drew us to Anna Nicole
And now she’s dead
Autopsy on Playboy model starts
Anna Nicole Smith Died. So Did Three American Troops
The Allure of Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith: Stunning New Developments
Now someone else says they’re the father of her kid
Anna Nicole Smith’s death – Biggest news event ever!

Found on the web and GeneralThursday, February 8th, 2007, (11:27 am)

As much as I am entirely against the United States war for oil mission to bring peace and democracy in oil rich Iraq, I would say support to a degree the notion of “supporting the troops.” Having said that, doesn’t your heart just sink when you see this kind of thing.

Being so far away and entirely unfamiliar with the culture of Iraq it is, of course, hard for any of us to truly understand the pressures the soldiers are under. But spare a moment to consider how exactly the United States army are “winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people” when they ram their cars with families in, ram buses full of people, and miss children running across the road in moments that would stop the hearts of you or I.

The reason why they drive like this is to limit the risk of attack, which I understand entirely. But put yourself in an Iraqi’s boots for one moment. All you see in a big ol’ wagon full of yanks screaming through your streets ramming vehicles, causing damage and maybe even accidents too while paying little or no regard to the order it is that they’re supposed to be bringing to the country.

I sympathize too with the soldiers. Having to drive like this is unhelpful in creating any goodwill between them and the average Iraqi. They say they need to do this because if they’re stationary for any length of they invariably come under fire, then they have to shoot back and they’ve now become the “bad guy.” But doesn’t that sound like a ‘chicken and egg’ situation? – Someone will shoot at us because they don’t like us, so in order to avoid the threats from angry anti-American people we ram other road users out of the way wherever we go which… makes people feel angry and anti-American. – Hmm?

Imagine then a slightly different version of this video. Lets say, for example, the the soldiers were in fact firemen aboard and fire truck on not the streets of Iraq but the streets of America. Imagine them screaming down the street sirens wailing as they try to weave their way through busy rush hour traffic. They start to ram vehicles out of the way, many vehicles over and over, some with families and children in. Now imagine seeing this on your favorite evening news show. Do you suppose there would be an outcry or would Americans feel this was acceptable?

On the bright side though, I suppose when America is done bringing freedom to Iraq, and when the “hearts and minds” have been won, the Iraqi people will be able to exercise a freedom that you know would be exercised in the United States had this incident happened there… They’ll be able to sue someone for millions of dollars. Long live democracy.

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